Liverpool, UK: Global health experts have called for initiation of greater efforts in India to deal with Tuberculosis (TB). The statement came in response to the recent estimates by the World Health Organisation (WHO) which noted that the TB epidemic in India was larger than previously estimated.
The revised estimates put the incidence of TB in India at 217 per 1,00,000 population in 2015 as against the previously estimated 127 per 1,00,000. Significantly, an estimated 10.4 million new TB cases were recorded worldwide in 2015, the WHO had said recently, asserting that India was one of six nations which accounted for 60 per cent of the new cases in 2015. Six countries that accounted for 60 per cent of the new cases included India, Indonesia, China, Nigeria, Pakistan and South Africa.
Importantly, the latest findings revealed that India had reported only 56 per cent of its TB burden in 2014 and 59 per cent in 2015. “We need to work to improve the quality of data. Due to the sheer size, India has a major impact on the rest of the world,” said José Luis Castro, Executive Director of the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease at the 47 the Union World Conference on Lung health in Liverpool.
The gaps of TB reporting in India had had the other countries concerned. The Health minister from Phillipines, Paulyn Ubial, said, “In our country we look at TB as a public health problem and we expect other countries to do the same. It is a concern of the Philippines and WHO that India is not doing its part in trying to detect all TB cases and putting all detected cases under treatment immediately,” Ms Ubial she said at the opening press conference.
“We have had some very disturbing news from WHO this month. We now know that the global burden of TB is much higher than we previously thought. If we carry on with business as usual, we will fail miserably to meet the global targets agreed upon under the End TB Strategy. Good news is that we know what to do,” Mr Castro added.
“The dismal progress in the TB response is a tragedy for the millions of people suffering from this disease,” WHO’s TB programme director Mario Raviglione said. Adding that, “to save more lives, we must get newly-recommended rapid tests, drugs and regimens to those who need them. Current actions and investments fall far short of what is needed.”
However, Director General of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) Dr Soumya Swaminathan said that she was hopeful and India could be soon on track. “Certain important policy changes have been made, which will be implemented soon. In the next few months we will see the roll out of the daily regimen and molecular diagnostics and hopefully India will do much better,” she told this newspaper in Liverpool.